I’d say it’s official – we are now fully immersed in the holiday season!  And every year, it happens.  We start to see recommendations, tips, and advice circulating around the media outlets.   They want to tell us how to REALLY enjoy the holidays without all the guilt and added stress.  “How to not gain weight over the holidays”; “Make time every day to work out”; “Eat a salad or have soup before going to a holiday party so as not to over-eat”; “How to stay healthy through the holiday season”; “Avoid late-night eating” (isn’t this when we are mostly celebrating during the holidays?); “Take time for yourself”.  I don’t know about you, but these “tips and tricks” add a little bit more to my to-do list! 

The holiday season IS about indulging, so we need to give our ourselves permission to do so.  Some of the delicious food and treats we enjoy may only come around once a year (hello Mom Mom’s Christmas cookies!) – so don’t miss out!  Go ahead, indulge, and enjoy EVERY bite.  Food brings us pleasure, so take away the fear and guilt surrounding certain types of food.  Try having a sensible portion to satisfy your palate keeping in mind feeling full is physical and feeling satisfied is mental. Let’s trust and respect our body’s intuition; meaning, rely on its hunger and satiety cues or in other words, eat intuitively.  Eating intuitively is using our instincts, emotions, and thoughts to guide us on what to eat, when to eat, and when we feel satisfied.  These simplistic concepts can help us make peace with food. 

Now that we’ve addressed enjoying all foods, let’s indulge in our environment and how we can embrace the beautiful sights and sounds of the season.  Maybe it’s eating at a beautifully set table with a big bouquet of flowers or seasonal arrangement?  Or preparing and eating a big meal with others? Or taking as much time to sit and enjoy the meal as it did to prepare it?  These activities are a part of “convivial eating” which is defined as a “fondness for feasting, keeping good company, pleasurable eating or eating with others, or eating in a pleasing environment.”  In today’s good food/bad food diet culture, we have strayed from what eating truly is – a way to nourish our bodies for energy, to indulge in our favorite foods, and to enjoy the time spent preparing and eating with others.

After all, isn’t THIS what the holidays are all about?

Michele DiCristofaro MS, RD, LDN